South Carolina Hack Attack Numbers Go Up
Officials in South Carolina say that 200,000 more tax returns have been accessed than initially thought. Now, the state thinks the total number of individual tax returns that were hacked is 3.8 million, with 657,000 business tax returns also hacked.
A spokeswoman said that this number is, fortunately, the final number of tax returns hacked, based on work done with analysts.
Governor Nikki Haley confirmed on Wednesday, Nov 7th, that the analysts discovered the hack into business returns while searching through the data packet accessed by the hack attack. Officials also confirmed that the tax returns were accessed with an employee’s credentials. However, they still say that the hacker was international, and not local.
No one from DOR will currently comment on how the hacker found the employee’s credentials. However, Gov Haley stated that, despite security criticism, South Carolina did use the same security standards as banks and other large, private institutions.
The state Department of Consumer Affairs is warning South Carolina residents that scammers might try to take advantage of the hack attack by sending out phishing emails or making bogus phone calls.
To protect residents of South Carolina, Gov Haley has signed an Executive Order to improve cyber security in the state.
Unfortunately, the Department of Revenue has exceeded its yearly budget in the attempt to protect the state’s residents. The department budgeted $41.7 million for this year, but has promised $63.2 million to pay for credit monitoring, as well as mail notices and call center staff. To help shoulder the cost, Experien, the credit monitoring service, has agreed to cap it’s costs at $12 million.
Fortunately, nearly 700,000 people in the state of South Carolina have taken advantage of the free credit monitoring. Businesses will also receive free credit monitoring.
If you are a current or former resident of South Carolina, and have paid taxes to the state since 1998, you can call 1-866-578-5422 or visit www.protectmyid.com/
South Carolina is Not Alone in Hack Attacks
While this is a tragic incident, this is not the first time a government agency has experienced a security breach. Paul Stephens, from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in California, larger hack attacks have been perpetrated against both private companies and the federal government, which revealed information that could lead to identity fraud.
Columbia, SC-based defense attorney Pete Strom, of the Strom Law Firm, has dealt with several cyber criminals himself. DuringStrom’s as the state’s top federal prosecutor, he put some hackers behind bars for their crimes. However, he understands how difficult that process is – while it was simple for the hacker to gather information, it won’t be so simple to find him again.
“Just knowing what I know about this system, it sounds to me the more likely scenario is, somebody that’s made a mistake,” saidStrom. “Somebody got asked a question, they thought in good faith they were giving a little bit of information to somebody who was legitimate and it turned out it was a hacker.” However, when questioned whether the hacker could be found and extradited for trial,Strom said the chances of ever finding him again were “very low.”
“If he’s in a jurisdiction that we extradite from and there’s enough information to indict him, we’d get him back and he’d be prosecuted and he’d go to jail for — with this amount of money — for the rest of his life.” While the Department of Homeland Security says they have found an international IP address used to hack into the DOR, it will be unlikely investigators can trace is back to the hacker himself.
The Attorneys at the Strom Law Firm Can Help Prosecute Criminals, Including South Carolina’s Hack Attack
Hackers can break into complex security systems any time. If your personal information has been stolen, you could face difficulty applying for social security benefits. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. If you live in South Carolina and you are a victim of South Carolina’s Hack Attack, the attorneys at Strom Law can help you secure your social security disability and benefits. We offer free, confidential consultations, so do not hesitate to contact us. 803.252.4800.